Sherlyn comes from one of the poorest towns in the Philippines, the youngest of 8 children born to a poor farming family. Sherlyn watched as each of her older brothers and sisters had to leave school to help on the farm and she desperately wanted a different life. A life where she could finish primary school and then even secondary school and make a better life for herself and her family. That was her dream.
When Sherlyn was about to finish primary school, her dreams were shattered when her mother passed away. Her mother had instilled in her the dream of a different life and when she died, Sherlyn felt like her dreams couldn’t come true. Not long after that, the Sisters of Mary came to Sherlyn’s village during their community work and moved by Sherlyn’s difficulties they offered her a place at their school.
Sherlyn was desperate to leave and to accept the place and so with the support of her remaining family she was eventually able to accept the place. She describes how she felt arriving for the first time at Girlstown, “When I came there, I saw the big buildings and I knew that I would be safe and those buildings would be my home for the next four years”.
Sherlyn was full of new hope at the school and enjoyed her first term. However, shortly before Christmas in her first year, she was called to the school office. The Sisters informed her that her father too had passed away and Sherlyn said that since then Christmas has never been the same for her family.
She says of that experience, “I was orphaned at 13 years old, I returned to my community and felt so alone. When I returned to the Sisters of Mary at school and my Mother Sister was joyfully waiting for me to return with a joyful smile and a big hug and said, “Everything will be ok, you will be ok. We’ll take care of you”. And that was the moment that I realized that maybe God took my parents away from me because He would be sending several mothers to take care of me and look after me. And so the Sisters became my family”.
Sherlyn continued with her studies and when she graduated, with the help of a generous donor, gained a scholarship to college where she studied Computer Science.
Sherlyn received many job opportunities but eventually chose to use her education for good and because of her positive experience with the Sisters of Mary she joined the programme as a staff member to work with the Sisters and help other children like herself out of poverty. Her work with the Sisters has meant that she has been assigned to a variety of jobs from museum work to translation services, allowing her to learn several languages.
She has moved around the world and is currently working in Chalco, Mexico with the Sisters.
“I have been with the Sisters for the past 17 years. They have assigned me, and each day really is a different day, it’s like a new day for me because I know I am part of the sense, the feeling that I am part of something greater than myself, something that is changing lives.
It’s what inspires me and drives me every day to do my best in whatever I do for them. Had I not been accepted as a little girl to the Sisters of Mary, my life would have been very different and I would not have been able to do all of this.
Just to give you a glimpse of how the Sisters of Mary impacted my life and my community: I have personally helped some of my nieces go to college. One is now a public school teacher in her community. The other is an IT professional and I am still helping another one who is in third year of college. I would not be able to do all of this without the help I have been given from the Sisters of Mary.
The Sisters have graduated over 150,000 graduates. That’s over 150,000 stories similar to mine. That’s 150,000 graduates helping to improve the lives of their families.”
Sherlyn grew up in one of the poorest towns in the Philippines. 17 years after finishing her college degree, Sherlyn works and travels with the Sisters of Mary, helping other children like her out of poverty.